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Jan 14, 2007 06:03 PM

MSP - Mid Month Update - Post a Review of places you've dined at in Jan 2007!

Take a moment

Review your calendar from the first few weeks of Jan (heck include NYE weekend as well) and post reviews, downhill alerts and anything else that you would like to share with fellow hounds in chow!

Discuss away!

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  1. I'll start

    Alma - excellent - one of the best meals I've had.

    Lexington - ate at the bar - great service, great food, 4 glasses of wine & 2 excellent entrees with tip & tax $100

    Cafe 128 - reliable, good service, great meal, the place was empty!

    I've been visiting the Il vesco vino on selby for pre or post dinner wine and the new 3rd floor bar has opened and the food has looked better than when I ate there in Dec. Might have to give it another shot. They updated the menu & its very promising! It was packed.

    Anyone else?

    8 Replies
    1. re: St Paul Susie

      Why don't I instead link to reports I've written, instead of re-writing them? (EDIT: So, I thought all I was going to do was link to a bunch of reports but, lo and behold, there are a lot of places I ate I hadn't reported on. Who knew!)

      Midtown Global Market (Lake @ Chicago, Mpls):
      YAY! especially Taqueria Los Ocampo (al pastor huaraches #3 & #6), La Sirena Gorda (the deep fried tilapia platter), and the goat from Bymore meats.
      YAY! on A la Salsa's mole chicken with tamales

      Chatterbox Pub (St. Paul):
      Nay! on the burgers, sandwiches, and appetizers.

      And, I continue to love the Molliter Lucy at The Nook on Hamline and Randolph in St. Paul, on the fresh bakery-made bun with the handcut fries together with cherry coke made the old fashioned way.

      Also, I continue to love the portabella mushroom sandwich at the Groveland Tap in St. Paul (St. Clair near Fairview), as well as their spicy Cajun Lucy (jalapeno-stuffed burger.) This time of year, the chili hits the spot, too:

      For breakfast and relaxing with the Sunday paper, I like the tofu scramble at the Coffee News Cafe in St. Paul (on Grand Ave, West of Snelling), though the toast and potatoes that come with it aren't extraordinary.

      Also, for just your day to day weekend breakfast joint, I like Longfellow Grill (Mpls); its sister, Highland Grill (Cleveland at Ford Parkway in St. Paul) is a good spot, too, though louder. When I was there recently, I got the meatloaf and subbed the sweet potato fries (yum!) for the mashed potatoes. It was pretty good.

      Oh! we went to Matty B's in downtown St. Paul recently. It was better than I expected and a pretty good execution of the "supper club" experience. I liked the breads with the various spreads that they brought. The lobster bisque was nice enough. For my entree, I had the pork chops with garlic mashed potatoes, not spectacular by any means, but certainly competent. I keep hearing about the bad service there. Our server was polite, prompt, helpful--not sure what more one could ask for.

      Finally, the biggest cheat of all. We tried that "assemble your own frozen dinner place" in downtown Highland Park (on Cleveland just north of Ford Parkway) to have some back-up meals to throw in the oven for dinner off and on over the next month or two since we expect to be so swamped. We found it pretty good actually. Of course you could do it better yourself, but, when you are spread super-thin for evening meal prep, it's not a bad way to go.


      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        I keep meaning to tell this story about Chatterbox: a friend of Paz' took her kids there and they ordered the mac and cheese for kids off the for kids section and it came with JALAPENOS on top. They are so full of themselves at Chatterbox, so determined to be cute and quirky they don't think things through. I have never liked anything I have eaten there. So if TDQ doesn't like the burgers, sandwiches or apps, what does she like? Just to stay on topic.

        1. re: AliceS

          Alice, nothing chowish yet, that I can find. I like the atmosphere and that's it. :(


          1. re: AliceS

            Alice - Chatterbox is quite overrated. The service we had last night was horrendous. I've rarely been treated so rudely by an entire staff.

            I was also annoyed that their Ginger Ale "From Scratch" was nothing more than the worst mixture of Sprite & Coke I've had.

            Won't be back there.

            1. re: Pip

              My kids adore chatterbox - we've had good luck with the chicken quasadillas and the ale they have - and that's it - the rest of it (including all the kids meals) is rotten.

              (edit - not gingerale - but the beer kind!)

              1. re: St Paul Susie

                Agreed, excellent beer selection. The Young's double chocolate stout is worth the price of admission.

                I actually found that I rather liked the fried catfish and sweet potato fries. Made a nice variation from the typical fish and chips so many places serve. However, my wife hated her sqush wrap, our other diners weren't thrilled with the build your own mac & cheese. The caramel apple crisp was mediocre.

                However, the absolute worst part of dinner was the abysmal cheese curd starter. I don't recall seeing the word "garlic" or "garlicky" anywhere on the menu, yet I do believe the mozz curds were deep fried in garlic oil, with a garlic batter and may have actually been garlic rather than mozzarella after all. I forced everyone at the table to eat one just so I made sure I wasn't losing my mind. I couldn't believe how god awful they were, and it came close to ruining the rest of the meal for me, as I continued to revisit the garlic for the next four hours.

                1. re: Nathan_1118

                  The cheese curds did us in, too. Thank you for saying what I couldn't figure out to say more delicately. I don't remember the garlic, except for the after-effect you describe; what stood out was the chili pepper.

                  I may have to try the catfish or the quesadilla, should I ever venture in again. I prefer Longfellow/Highland's sweet potato fries (C'box pub batters and fries them), but maybe the catfish needs the special battered accompanyment.


          2. re: The Dairy Queen

            I'm glad to hear a Matty B's report that was positive! I've heard so much of average. Might be a fun night out!

        2. Let's see, I've been to quite a few new places in 2007 (one of my goals for the year).

          Town Talk Diner - FINALLY made it and it's fantastic. One of my favorite places now and high up on the list of places to take out of towners.

          Morelos @ The Hub - pretty darn good Mexican. Went there for a friend's birthday last night. The pork tamales are really good as are the enchiladas. I also enjoyed the wide variety of delicious non-alcoholic drinks. The Hibiscus Flower was great.

          Chambers - had a board dinner there and had the same tasting menu as I did at the beginning of November. Still think the carrot lime puree served with the steak is out of this world, but overall a little disappointed by the same menu.

          Broders - pizza is still good there

          Caffrey's Deli - have you had their Hot Shot Italian sandwich? To die for - mostly at 2am. :)

          Lucia's - darn good - if they ever close I might kill myself.

          Colossal Cafe - excellent breakfast. Good omelettes, frittatas, etc.

          Cafe Lurcat - weird service, but great food. The pork tenderloin was very delicious. The ahi was fresh and delicious, but somewhat uninspired (lemon and soy).

          2 Replies
          1. re: Pip

            I now have a goal of town talk diner in 2007 - maybe even Jan/Feb.

            1. re: Pip

              My one and only (so far) Town Talk Diner experience (for dinner) was terrific. I was initially disappointed by the limited menu. I didn't feel like a salad (althought they had some interesting ones, including one with beets, which I normally would have gone for--love beets!), so it left me with a choice of burgers or their pricier entrees. I didn't feel like springing just under $20 for the lamb stew, the sweet potato risotto, or the pork chops, so I got a burger. There were a couple of other choices, too, though I don't remember the details. Salmon something--salad, I think, and free-range chicken breast something, and steak. It looks like you can get the pancakes any time of day.

              The burgers (which are 1/2 lb monsters) start about $9'ish, and go progressively up from there as you add cheese, bacon, and the whole kitchen sink. The kitchen sink sauce--which was thousand island dressing-like-- adds an interesting kick. And the garlic fries, with the citrus-y mayo they serve on the side, are fantastic. They had a butternut squash soup that was to die for, hint of cayenne, I think.

              So, I'm guessing the entrees are worth the price, but I just wanted an entree in the $12-$14 range that wasn't a hamburger. (There's just no pleasing some people!)

              Overall, it was a great meal. In spite of the improvements they've made to buffer the echoing sound, it's still loud. The wines by the glass were really affordable, and the beer selection is good, but there's nothing on tap. While the wines by the glass seemed slightly under-priced, the beer seemed slightly overpriced.

              What's going to stop this from being a favorite of ours is it forces me to cross the invisible boundary out of St. Paul beyond which I turn into a pumpkin, the noise, and the fact that, for diner food, even very tasty high-quality diner food, it's pretty pricy--$54, with tax and tip, for burgers and beverages for two people. Service was outstanding, by the way. If we'd gone for the full entrees, we'd be priced at the low-end of 112 Eatery range and if we're going to roll our pumpkins selves all the way to Minneapolis, might as well take our chances at the bar at 112 Eatery!

              But, it's a cut above the Highland/Longfellow siblings (although, I think the Highland and Longfellow siblings have more extensive menus), and way above Chatterbox and what it tries to be.

              The nicest surprise of all was, after we declined to order anything from the dessert menu, they brought us some teensy, melt-in-your mouth, chocolate-covered peanut butter balls, dusted in cocoa. It was nice to end on a sweet note.


            2. Bar at Vincent for their new Happy Hour - Very good. It's a nice alternative for an after-work bite. Three dollar glasses of wine too. Had the Kim Chee Shrimp and Flatbread with bacon and onion.

              1. Copied from the Chambers Kitchen thread:

                I had dinner at Chambers Saturday night and we all loved it, and thought the prices were actually quite reasonable.

                Japanese sashimi. Simply outstanding. Fresh, excellent thin cuts of sashimi and the herbs made a wonderful accent.

                Fragrant Mushroom egg rolls. Mediocre at best. The mushrooms seemed overcooked, but the sauce was great. A nice fresh sauce with it as well. Not wasabi, but rather a member of the ginger family.

                Duck l'orange. I prefer my duck to not be smoky. Wasn't a big fan, but it was done perfectly.

                Sea Bass. I don't like sea bass at all, but those who did raved.

                Black pepper sirloin. Very nicely done, excellent black pepper, sake and chili reduction on it. Flavor was outstanding.

                Mahi-Mahi with Malaysian chili sauce and thai basil and celery. Simply amazing. The fish was done perfectly, whiter than mahi mahi typically is, they did a wonderful job preparing it to be cooked to remove the bloodline and silver flesh. The seasoning crust was excellent and the chili sauce was a perfect blend to go along with the fish.

                Four cocktails, two starters, four entrees and one bottle of reasonable wine for a grand total of $300 including tip. Not badly priced at all. Better price point and better food than Murray's, Manny's or Morton's, not to mention we loved the stark atmosphere and 80's soundtrack. A great meal. We will definitely go back.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Nathan_1118

                  Speaking of sea bass, Lurcat has a miso sea bass on their menu right now (possibly for awhile, I'm not sure). The server said it's their most popular dish. I thought, "Of course it is. Miso and sea bass - how original."

                  A friend ordered this dish and I have to say it was outstanding. It was so delicate, sweet, and salty. I'd highly recommend that to anyone iffy on sea bass. Forgot to mention that in my other post.

                2. Just a few faves and locals:

                  The Monte - still terrific Szechuan green bean app.

                  Koyi - still wonderful melt-in-your-mouth sushi.

                  Moose & Sadies - still the best huevos rancheros in town.

                  Runyon's - still those great Buffalo shrimp (well, actually, Santa Fe shrimp on the menu, but it's steamed shrimp finished in Buffalo sauce).

                  Keegan's - still spotty fish & chips (better some nights than others) but worth it for the live Irish music and kitchen dances on Sunday nights.

                  Pracna - I do so want to like this place. It's convenient for catching a movie at St. Anthony Main, and the friends I took there Friday night loved their grilled walleye and salmon caesar salad. And a great selection of taps. But, my tomato soup was sickly sweet. And their walleye fingers don't compare to many other places. And their crinkle fries were predictably squishy. Sigh.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Loren3

                    I hear you on Moose & Sadies (oh the ginger limeade in the summer is a TREAT!). Great salads for lunch as well. They always seem to have the freshest/perfectly ripe avacados.

                    My best bet at Keegan's is the beef stew or the Guiness pie. You still can't beat the F&C at Brits. (I'm not hearing you Local and Kieran's fans)

                    Pracna has so much potential and so little ambition to change from the "grilled chicken caesar/fettuccine alfredo/chicken and wild rice soup-recipes-for-a-boring-palate" curse. It is such a relaxing place, especially in the summer on the sidewalk sipping Stellas, but I'll be darned if I'll ask for a menu.

                    1. re: Foureyes137

                      The one and only time I had F&C at Brits it was abysmal and I never went back. That was three years ago or so. I hope they've improved. And the Irish music at Keegan's makes up for the food, whereas the drunken 20somethings at Brit's just make the whole experience worse. Maybe if I tried it on a Sunday, but this time of year that's a long walk, even in the skyway.

                      And - to StPaulSusie - Pracna is still open and has the pride of being Minneapolis' oldest living bar.

                      My problem with the beef stew and Guiness pie is that I can't/don't eat beef or pork or lamb or ....

                      1. re: Loren3

                        A drunken anything-something is annoying, though I see more people in their 20s at Keegans surely due to it's proximity to campus.

                        If you do not enjoy a party atmosphere, I suggest a visit for Saturday lunch. A two piece and a pint of Old Speckled Hen makes a cold day warmer.

                        PS. Meat is really really delicious. ;)

                        1. re: Foureyes137

                          It's not the meat, it's the motion (if you get my drift). My reaction to red meat is not pleasant, so no kidney pie, no pork egg rolls, etc.